Seagrass Mapping and Monitoring Along the Coasts of Crete, Greece
M.Sc. (Master’s) Thesis. University of Twente, Faculty of Earth Observation and Geoinformation (ITC), Enschede, Netherlands. 158 p, 2011
158 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2019
Date Written: March 8, 2011
The seagrasses, a unique group of aquatic plants, create complex, extremely diversified and productive ecological systems in the littoral coastal zones. The only flowering plant in the world that is able to live completely submerged, seagrasses play vital role in the marine ecosystems of the World Ocean. Seagrasses are the most important component in the environmental food chain of the coastal ecosystems, being a vital food source for various marine species (e.g. fish, dugongs, turtles, swans), and a producer of organic matter, which is the very basis of the food web.
The P.oceanica seagrass is an endemic for the Mediterranean region, and a main species in the marine coastal environment of Greece. Meadows of P.oceanica are subjected to the human activities, because they occur in coastal areas, where they are affected both by anthropogenic and by climatic and environmental factors. Nowadays P.oceanica is in the alarming state of regression, because of the deterioration of the environment in the Mediterranean Sea. Due to these reasons, P.oceanica is a protected species since 1988 in some Eu- ropean countries (France). Monitoring P.oceanica is therefore an important contribution to the saving and protecting the environment of Mediterranean region.
The current MSc thesis focuses on the monitoring of seagrass P.oceanica along the northern coasts of Crete Island, Greece, and investigates the application of the remote sensing techniques for the seagrass mapping. This research was articulated in two parts, where the first one involves an ecological approach to the seagrass distribution in various regions around the globe and the experience of seagrass monitoring nowadays. The second part of this work has technical character and investigates the application of the remote sensing techniques towards seagrass mapping. It, furthermore, focuses on the optical properties of the P.oceanica and other seafloor cover types, and studies distinguishability of various seafloor cover types. Studies of the optical characteristics of separate seafloor cover types were made with purpose to clarify, whether their spectral properties change with varying environmental conditions.
Special attention has been drawn on the role of environmental factors on the distribution of P.oceanica along the coasts of Crete, and in particular, how the optical properties of the seafloor cover types, i.e. spectral reflectance, are being changed under varying external conditions, e.g. water column, amount of suspended particles and sediments in the seawater, and water temperature. For this purpose we studied differences in the spectral reflectance of P.oceanica and other bottom cover types at three distinct depths. The diverse spectral values entail variations in optical properties of the seafloor cover types at changing environmental conditions. We applied WASI Water Color Simulator (WASI) simulation techniques for the modelling of the optical parameters of various seafloor cover types by various spaceborne imaging spectrometers (MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS), Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) and MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)), in order to understand their suitability and possible limitations for the seagrass mapping.
Fieldwork research sites were presented by separate locations on the northern coast of Crete region (Ligaria, Agia Pelagia, Xerocampos). The additional measurements of the reflectance spectra of the seawater with and without sediments have been made in aquarium tank in 2009 by means of Trios-RAMSES spectroradiome- ter. Parallel to the collection of spectra signatures, we captured the imagery for the seagrass mapping, which consists of the aerial images from the Google Earth website and the satellite Landsat TM and ETM+ scenes.
Keywords: P.oceanica, seagrass monitoring, spectral reflectance, remote sensing, WASI, Google Earth, Crete
JEL Classification: Y4, Y40, Y1, Y10, Y92, Q01, Q22, Q25, Q50, Q51, Q55, Q56, Q57
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